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Things You Didn’t Know About the Air Max 1

An education in one of the most recognisable shoes

Given the nature of how Nike often empowers its fans with the ability to run and jump higher, you would expect that the sparks of inspiration which stem from the design of their shoes would undoubtedly come from that of a cheetah or other similarly fleet-of-foot animals. The reality is a much more intriguing tale.

Tinker Hatfield, the man behind the very first Air Max, was previously an architectural guru before becoming one of Nike’s most renowned and well-loved designers. Harkening back to his own roots as an industrial inventor, his inspiration for the Nike Air Max was a building in Paris. The Georges Pompidou Centre, essentially was perceived as “a building that was never finished”, with its interior structure exposed and unveiled the inner working or architecture. Whilst the Air Max’s design was drawn from a controversial concept, its success is a far cry from controversy. Built on groundbreaking innovations in running technology, the debut of the Nike Air Max 1 in 1987 revolutionized footwear designs and took the sportswear world by storm. You can read more about the revolution of the iconic Air Max here.

Hatfield taking inspiration from a controversial building is just one of the things you probably didn’t know about the Nike Air Max. Here are some others you probably didn’t know about Hatfield’s exquisite pioneering design.

Nike AirMax: Celebrate the Month of Air with New Releases and OG Classics

Fear Beyond Aesthetics
While apprehension towards a shoe with an air bubble as support is purely understandable, the visible air sole has a function beyond its aesthetics, where this part of the design is known as “Maximum Volume”. This allows for the transfer of air on impact — allowing the air bag to expand beyond the confines of the midsole. One of the biggest concerns about the air sole at the was that it would puncture. Surprisingly, the air bubble typically outlives the rest of the midsole.

Biggest Air Unit of all Time
The Air Max 1 features an air unit three times the size of those used in Nike’s previous shoes. Not only was the visible factor impressive, the performance aspects and cushion capabilities were unparalleled in 1987.

The Air isn’t Normal
The Nike Air Max’s air bubble is also made out of polyurethane, the same anti-weathering material used in US Navy ships. Nerdier Air Max fans may also like to know that the air bubble in the shoe is also typically 25 PSI (pounds per square inch), a similar level to that of an average car tyre. Marrying both function and form, that’s the kind of security and support the Air Max offers. The actual gas used in the cushion pockets isn’t normal air either — the original Air Max 1 used Sulfur hexafluoride, while modern iterations now hold nitrogen in their soles.

Marrying Suede and Mesh
The first version of the Air Max 1 featured suede and mesh in Nike’s unforgettable red, white and grey combination, baring the sneaker’s air cushioned sole unit for all to see. Considered outlandish at that point in time, the Air Max 1 is now comparably modest compared to enlarged air cushioning in the new versions of the Nike Air Max. However, the Air Max 1 still remains one of the most popular lifestyle models and sneaker head choice, particularly in Europe where the line is so feverishly revered.

Clever Leather
After the initial launch of the shoe, leather versions were released in 1988 and 1992 and they were extremely well received. The suede and mesh combination were considered more performance oriented while the leather versions provided a more fashionable everyday sneaker choice.

Crowned Jewel
The Air max 1 was a recipient of the jewel Nike Swoosh back when the Air Max 1 had first hit the market. The first jewel Swoosh Air Max 1 released in 1996 and a small number of color ways continued over the five or six years that followed. These editions are now highly-sought by Air Max collectors.


Bringing back the bathing Elephant
A bevy of 2017 Air max day releases have inevitably sparked excitement within the sneaker head community, but it is inevitable that most of the excitement stems from the re-release of Air Max fans’ all time favourite sneaker by Hirofumi Kojima –the “atmos Elephant”. The winner of Nike’s Air Max vote back 2017, Kojima explains that the inspiration for the shoe’s design is drawn from elephants bathing in the water, to suit the safari theme that he has started in his collaboration with Nike in 2007.

Nike AirMax: Celebrate the Month of Air with New Releases and OG Classics